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Fractal Design North hands-on: The PC case with "Wife Approval" factor

An ATX case inspired by nature. With real wood and RGB in rainbow colors behind the tinted glass. The new PC case called "North" from the Swedish case specialists Fractal Design offers a slightly more grown-up exterior than the competition with its tidy design language.

PC cases have undergone quite a few changes in recent years. The boring gray boxes with a purely functional designs are long gone. Nowadays, the case of the home computer has to reflect one's own taste and personality no less than a car, a smartphone, or a style of clothing.

While case trends such as tempered glass are now actually part of the basic equipment of gaming PCs, the voices for more airflow have also become louder and louder in recent years. Your high-performance hardware should not only be attractively packaged but ideally also well-cooled.

To achieve this, mesh front panels have been increasingly used, but Fractal Design goes one step further and decorates the case front of the new North series with real wood. The stylish ATX PC case is available in black or white, and in both variants, the user has the choice between a mesh side panel or the above-mentioned tinted glass. To convince ourselves of the qualities of the new case, we quickly moved our video workstation.

Solid first impression

The North presents itself unobtrusively with high-quality material selection and individual details. The material mix of glass, steel mesh panels, and solid side panels makes a high-quality impression, while the golden accent of the power button and audio ports fits perfectly with the warm wood tones of the front side. The leather loop for removing the top panel and the golden feet show the attention to detail with which the Swedes from Fractal have put together their new North.

Before installing our system, we obviously need to get some space to work with. This is done quickly, as is typical for Fractal, and all side/front and top panels can be removed easily. The thumbscrews remain on the corresponding panels, so nothing gets lost in the heat of the moment.

An (almost) perfect experience

We equip the tower with hardware from our video production computer. We use an MSI MAG Z690 Tomahawk Wi-Fi, equipped with an Intel Core i9-12900K, 64 GB DDR4 Corsair Vengeance LPX, and various NVME SSDs. The ATX standard represents the maximum size for compatible motherboards, and also, in general, you have to consider that the North is not the biggest case in its class.

We cool our power-hungry Alder Lake chip with a 360 mm All-In-One water cooling system, in this case also from the Fractal Design (Amazon Affiliate Link). The Lumen S36 could be mounted in the front without any problems, and only the two included 140 mm PWM fans had to give way. These can alternatively be placed in the "roof" of the case if the passive airflow is not sufficient. Additionally, a single 120 mm fan can be placed in the rear.

As usual, the power supply can be placed under a cover, but in our individual case, the compact dimensions of the case become noticeable here. Our modular 750W power supply from BeQuiet! is equipped with fabric-covered extensions in addition to the included cables. Since we also store a conventional 10 TB in the case's basement, it gets quite tight with the excess cabling. You shouldn't rest too much on the fact that you can't see the resulting chaos when the side panel is closed because Fractal leaves a rather generous gap behind the radiator, which mercilessly exposes possible cable management omissions.

But this problem can also be solved with a bit of flair, and nothing actually stands in the way of a tidy build in Fractal Design North. However, we would have liked to see a possibility for laying fan and pump cables as well as for SATA and front panel connections on the upper and lower right side of the motherboard.

A case as a room decoration

Fractal made it quite easy for us with the compact dimensions and, apart from the above-mentioned points of criticism, in terms of cable management. Our AIO and the black-grey color scheme of our components also contribute to the fact that the resulting system is visually very appealing. By the way, if you prefer an air cooler, even large models like Noctua's flagship NH-D15 (our review) with up to 170 mm are supported.

Speaking of tolerances, if you own a very large GPU from the current generation of NVIDIA or 3rd party alternatives of AMD's flagships, you should urgently inform yourself on Fractal's website before buying. In our case, the use of the AIO limits the maximum length of the GPU from 325 mm to 267 mm.

Our verdict

With the North, Fractal has once again hit the jackpot in terms of case design. The case with the extra nature elements is characterized by excellent workmanship and can be easily equipped with your own hardware without much prior experience. The compact outer dimensions create more space at the workplace or in the living room, and thanks to the unobtrusive design, your PC might not be banished directly under the table or into another room by your partner.

Nevertheless, Fractal has to put up with a bit of criticism from us. With additional cutouts at the said places, cabling could be made a lot easier, and the case's dimensions can also quickly become a downfall with modern hardware trends. Especially with the new NVIDIA cards and their expansive cooler designs, compatibility will be very tight, in the truest sense of the word.

By the way, we used the resulting system for our Youtube review of AMD's new RDNA3 cards, and in the video, there are again some impressions of the assembly.

Prices and availability

The Fractal Design North is available for 159 Euros, regardless of the selected variant, at least theoretically, because it seems the latest addition from the company is neither available at Alternate nor Amazon.


The present review sample was made available to the author as a loan by the manufacturer or a shop for the purposes of review. The lender had no influence on this review, nor did the manufacturer receive a copy of this review before publication. There was no obligation to publish this review.

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> Notebook / Laptop Reviews and News > Reviews > Fractal Design North hands-on: The PC case with "Wife Approval" factor
Alexander Wätzel, 2023-03- 5 (Update: 2023-03- 5)